Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Guest Post: Homemade Beef & Vegetable Soup, Southern Farm Style

by Stephanie Osborn

A lot of folks meet me and seem to think I grew up in the city, but I didn’t. I’m a rural Tennessee country gal,  and one of my favorite “harvest coming in” meals my mom made was homemade beef & vegetable soup with cornbread.

Both sets of grandparents had farms, and my parents had a big garden every year. Between all three, it was rare for us to have to buy veggies in the summertime once the plants started “coming in.” Summer evenings were spent communally, sitting on the front porch talking and prepping veg — shucking burlap bags (“tow sacks”) full of corn, snapping multiple paper grocery bags of green beans, shelling those same grocery bags full of crowder, black-eyed, or field peas. The completed beans and peas were usually dumped into giant mixing bowls resting in our laps. Sometimes we juggled two bowls — one prepped, one unprepped — and the hulls or strings would be dumped into another of those paper bags on the opposite side from the one full of veggies.

Since getting married, we’ve lived in the ‘burbs and I haven’t had room for a garden, and efforts at raising veggies and herbs in planters were flat failures due to location, drought causing the city to clamp down on water usage, and the local insect population. So I learned to wing it, substituting what I couldn’t get fresh with canned — which means this recipe can be made at any time of year, inside or out. I usually make it in a crock pot, but you can use a stock pot on the stove, or a kettle over the fire, just as readily; it isn’t fancy, and it isn’t hard, and there isn’t a hard-and-fast recipe, but it IS good!

  • ~1+ lb. stew beef (or a comparable amount of leftover roast, steak, etc.)
  • 2-3 medium to large red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
  • 1-2 bell peppers, cored/seeded/ribbed and cut into 1” squares (may also add 1-2 small chiles of your choice, if preferred)
  • 2-3 fresh tomatoes, peeled/seeded, chopped OR 1 can stewed tomatoes, broken up
  • 1 white or red onion (Vidalia or other mild variety preferred), peeled/chopped
  • 1 can whole kernel corn (or equivalent fresh corn, cut from cob, plus beef stock)
  • 1 cup crowder or field peas
  • 1 cup green beans, stringed and snapped
  • 1lb sliced button mushrooms, lightly rinsed OR 2 cans sliced/stems & pieces mushrooms
  • 2c. fresh coarsely-grated cabbage
  • 1c. sliced carrots, OR 1sm. can carrots
  • 1qt. home-canned tomato juice, OR 1 single serving of V8 juice with enough beef stock to equal ~1qt, OR 1 single serving of V8 juice plus one beef bouillon cube with enough water to equal ~1qt
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed, OR 1-2tsp dried garlic or garlic powder (DO NOT USE GARLIC SALT)
  • Herbs of your choice: sage, basil, oregano, marjoram, paprika, etc. as you like. If you added chiles, a hint of cilantro would be good.
  • Salt & pepper to taste

  1. If beef is raw, lightly season, then sauté cubed meat in hot pan until outside is seared.
  2. Place beef in bottom of a large cooking pot. Add, in order, carrots, potatoes, onion, pepper, peas, beans, cabbage, corn (with liquid, if canned), tomatoes (with liquid, if canned), mushrooms (with liquid, if canned). 
  3. Add seasonings, including garlic, and bouillon (if using). 
  4. Add liquids for broth (tomato juice, V8, stock or water); liquids should cover the veggies completely. (Don’t worry if you don’t use a whole quart. This is all approximate, and it will still taste great.) 
  5. Do not stir at this point.
  6. Cover and place on/over heat (crock pot, stove, fireplace, or cook fire), bring to a simmer, and allow to cook slowly for several hours, until beef is cooked through and vegetables are tender. 
  7. After the hardest veggies (potatoes, onions, peppers) start to tenderize, begin to stir the soup to ensure nothing sticks and flavors are distributed. 
  8. Add additional salt & pepper to taste, and serve with fresh hot cornbread.

This will feed two people for several meals, or a large family for one meal.

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